Client B’s story
Faces and Stories of Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care: Program for Clients with HIV/AIDS or who are HIV-impacted
Privacy is sacred for HIV positive persons. For this vulnerable population, who risk stigma, social isolation and other discriminatory responses that can impact their families, work, church/faith-based, community, living, and healthcare environments, we cannot share their ‘faces’ unfortunately. However, we can share their stories.
PAC Client with HIV at Aquarium with a Hospice Volunteer
People living with HIV/AIDS are living longer, experiencing new complications of multiple, simultaneous chronic diseases, and may be isolated due to limited mobility. These conditions compound the challenges of financial, housing and food insecurity. Our Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care (PAC): Program for Clients with HIV/AIDS or who are HIV-impacted brings practical supports, companionship, encouragement and a safe space to discuss what’s on a client’s mind, through Case Managers, Spiritual Care and Bereavement Counsellors, and specially trained volunteers.
We received this great photo and note from one of our hospice volunteers who took her aging, wheelchair bound, HIV client on a day trip to the local aquarium:
“I just wanted to send a quick note saying thank you from my client! We had the best time today, and he said he was so incredibly grateful that PAC was able to make that happen for him. He was very emotional about it, saying it made his last birthday the best one!! So, THANK YOU! I’ve attached a picture of him loving the tank! He couldn’t look away!”
Mary: “My job is cleaning the City of Peterborough. I love it, it gets me out in the fresh air and gets me exercise. I get feedback from people that we’re doing a great job and to keep up the great work. I’d like to keep cleaning, and expanding to other areas of the city, and in the winter.” (16 October 2020)
Kimmie: “The job gets me outdoors and I have fun and laugh. I love Jenny because she’s a great boss. It’s been nice to have a little extra money that is all mine. It had been a long time since I had worked. This makes me want to keep working. I’m glad to clean up this city.” (16 October 2020)
North House is a not-for-profit charitable organization who supports the North Durham townships of Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge through their mission of providing a spectrum of housing supports for those who are at risk or in crisis in North Durham. Established in 2004, North House has been assisting the low-income residents of the community as well as the most vulnerable who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
In March, the world was turned upside down. 2.6 billion people in our world went into self-isolation. The impact on us is immeasurable and involves the loss of so many things. COVID-19 has greatly affected the day-to-day lives of our community, but more specifically, the most vulnerable individuals are facing greater barriers. As we continue to maneuver through the daily changes during this pandemic, we worry about our seniors and our homeless. We are all trying to do what we can to keep them safe and free from the feeling of desperate isolation.
North House has always focused on housing, but in response to COVID-19, North House felt the need to make a slight shift in order to help meet the needs of our community. North House outreach staff prioritized both their senior and homeless clients, past and present to ensure their safety and to help to alleviate anxiety and isolation where they can. Completing over 133 wellness check-in calls during March staff identified the gaps in services within Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge townships.
Individuals contacted indicated that food insecurity is their biggest concern. Access to food has been an obstacle to many due to transportation restrictions, health-risks, lack of funds and mobility concerns. Accessing a food bank has been a challenge as many individuals have restricted mobility or those with chronic illnesses are at greater risk if they access a public space during the pandemic.
As a result, North House has been delivering healthy food boxes weekly to those seniors who need it. Weekly, on Fridays, the North House outreach team travels throughout North Durham delivering food, checking in and staying connected to the community.
North House has had the opportunity to work with several individuals who were either unsheltered or were living in inadequate conditions and help them apply and move into a new building in Cannington. Some of these individuals have been unsheltered for several years and have had no place to call their own in a very long time.
Once the apartments were secured, North House, through their Community Share Initiative, put out a call to the community for gently used items to help fill the apartments. The community came together in true “North Durham” style, donating several large items such as beds, couches, dressers and tables. With the support of partnerships with local Lions clubs and churches, people volunteered to help pick-up and move the items into the building. With the help of this great community, our newly housed neighbours have somewhere to call home.
Marvin Heller proves that perseverance and believing in yourself gets results.
He was homeless since late 2019. At that time, he was picked up by police on a 20-year-old warrant for a minor offence. Marvin was transferred from Collingwood where he had been working and living on a farm for close to five years, to Newmarket where he sat in custody for several days before appearing before a judge and being released. Although on good terms with his employer, during his time in Newmarket, Marvin had been replaced at work. He received this news at the Newmarket Bus Terminal where he was awaiting a bus back to Collingwood. Marvin was devastated. With no where to go, limited cash, and in a town he didn’t know, he felt completely alone.
A man approached Marvin and asked him if he needed any help. He suggested that Marvin stop by Inn From the Cold to see if they could assist in any way. Marvin describes his first few weeks at Inn From the Cold in early 2020 as “a total shock to my system.” He defines himself as a country man, having worked on farms and doing carpentry for his entire life. Being in Newmarket and surrounded by so many people made settling in difficult. However, with time and according to Marvin, the “lovely and helpful staff”, he was able to start moving forward. He made an application to receive Ontario Works for income support. He also did an intake with LOFT, including a streamlined access application for housing. Marvin broadened his network and began working closely with a York Region Diversion Worker and re-started medical appointments for knee replacement surgery. His knee injury was the result of a farm accident several years earlier. He joined Inn From the Cold’s Getting Ahead in a Just Getting’ By World Program where he learned that others had experienced similar life events that had left them homeless too. Just talking about his experience and putting it into broader perspective encouraged him to keep moving ahead.
When Inn From the Cold’s seasonal shelter was about to close, Marvin went to Kingsbridge Transitional Shelter where he was tested for Covid-19 and placed in isolation to await his test results and be ready if a housing offer came his way. Towards the end of his stay at Kingsbridge, LOFT offered Marvin housing through their Mental Health and Justice Program. He was ecstatic and moved in to his “incredibly beautiful new home” in mid-June.
Marvin continues to visit Inn From the Cold’s Drop-By program regularly, staying connected and continuing to work on his road map to Getting Ahead. When we asked him recently, “What can we do to help you move forward”, he answered, “How can I help Inn From the Cold?” This gracious and kind man is laser focused on his knee surgery, getting back to work, and giving back to the organizations and community that helped him to get ahead!